This was our fifth cruise on Carnival and our 10th overall. We were on an 8 day Eastern Caribbean itinerary during the week of July 20, 2013. Our ports were St Thomas, Antigua, Tortola, and Nassau. We left from Miami on Saturday afternoon.
Passengers: 4700 on our sailing. There were many young families and young couples as usual on Carnival. This is a young people-family cruise. There were older people on this cruise but maybe 15% of the ship. Not like Celebrity where the average age is 50 plus. If you do not like young people and kids with lots of go, go, go----then find another cruise, you will not be happy regardless of price.
On Board Info: There were almost no announcements made. This is a huge change from the Carnival of just a few years ago. When on the Dream in 2010 the announcements were constant and even woke you up in the morning. That is all gone. You get an occasional announcement in the hall----much better than before. The Cruise Director Butch also does a morning show on sea days which is put on video in the stateroom. There are no in cabin announcements not even on the day of disembarkation.
We flew into Miami on Delta the day before and took the hotel shuttle to the Marriott Residence Inn. Shuttle was free and located one level up outside on the departure level. The Marriott complex houses 3 Marriott brand hotels and the shuttle for all of them is the same (Red mini bus) that goes by every 15 minutes. We had a two bedroom allergy free suite complete with free hot breakfast in the morning. It was fine but not really cheap, but we are a family of 5 so you need space and allergies are a concern for us. See TripAdvisor for detailed reviews. We transferred to the Port of Miami by cab. The price is $24 dollars plus $1 plus tip. It was easy and quick.
Check-in: was no more than 15 minutes. We had Faster to the Fun. But when we arrived it really didnt make any difference. They also sent us to the wrong line and gave us the wrong cards. This was frustrating as it appeared that I knew more about FFTF than the workers did. By the time we were in the correct line we were almost to the front of the normal line. That is when the employee that I had originally spoken to realized her mistake and came to get us and apologized. Not sure why it took her that long to realize her mistake. I had clearly shown her my pass before and said we are FTTF is this where we enter? She looked at the pass and directed me away. Then when we got to the desk our sign and sail cards were incorrect. We were told that this would be fixed at Guest Services. I went to line up at the onboard FTTF line and watched as 3 GS workers ignored me as the very long regular line proceeded briskly. At that point I spoke up and said is any one attending the FTTF line. OH are you not being attended to? was the response. Many apologies and excuses later all was taken care of and we went to our cabins early. This turned out to be the only good thing about FTTF that they handled well. Our luggage came before the safety drill and we were unpacked and ready to start our vacation by 2pm. On this day the call for all cabins ready came at a very late 2:30pm about an hour later than usual. I paid $50 per cabin for FTTF, when you pay for service you expect it. If I had been a platinum or diamond guest I would have been equally upset, since they have paid for FTTF by way of 75 days of cruising.
In my opinion the buffet on carnival has improved. While you may have read many complaints about this in reviews, it is actually better than 5 or even 3 years ago. Better than before but still not as good as Celebritys Solstice class ships. However crowded the buffet area was; I never waited more than 5 minutes for anything other than pizza. Yes I checked my watch every time. Tea was served on sea days in Blush and was fun. Ice cream was also available at stations in the buffet on either side. The quality of the ice cream has gone down and there are no make your own sundae topping as in the past. However, the ice cream is still better than it was on Celebrity.
Guys Burgers are excellent and very fast. They now have cheese burgers always at the ready. If you want a special order you must tell them or they will simply say Cheese burger? and begin handing you one. I prefer to fix my own so I did the cheeseburger most of the time and then added my own toppings, but I did do a special order of a Straight up burger one day. It was great as expected.
The Blue Iguana was also fast and good. These are two welcome additions with no extra charge and Carnival deserves a Bravo for them.
Pizza was excellent but they need to have a standard slice available for people who dont want to wait for special orders.
Hot Dog cart out on deck good.
Comedy Brunch: Just a brunch where the Comedians introduce themselves and tell you about their shows. Excellent food with a different menu, we went twice. Its only on sea days and if you have free VIFP drink coupons this is the best time to use them.
Lido Deck, Pools and Waterworks, Sky Course: The pools are too small, the slides are fun. The water works is like having your own water park with bucket on board and the ropes sky course was a blast. Mini golf, outdoor pool table, basketball, jogging track and more are all tons of fun on deck.
Main Dining Room: The food was excellent. Mind you it is the same Carnival menu from 8 years ago with only minor changes. I went on a Celebrity cruise in March and I can tell you that the food in the dining room has always been better on Carnival. Our waiter and two assistants were completely overwhelmed. They were three people trying to serve 35 guests in two hours. It always took 30mins to get appetizers and another 15 on top of that to get entrees. There was no time for helping with your chair or napkin or any other formal dinning services. If this is your thing you will be disappointed. I can go either way so it really didnt bother me. Service wise, Celebrity is much better. However, their waiters have only 24 guests and that makes a big difference. Also, shorts and casual dress in the dining room was everywhere on Carnival. No one followed the rules. Nonetheless we enjoyed the main dining room and the food very much.
Cove Cabin: We had side by side cabins on deck two 2301 and 2305. They were connecting. For the first time ever we had different cabin steward for each cabin. Both were good and no complaints at all. Balcony partition did not open on these balconies. We loved the location and there was no noise at night from above.
Entertainment: Wow Carnival has really come down a few levels on this. The production shows are high school level with cutting edge electronics. They go on about how they have put a million dollar stage together with lights and cast members who are Triple threats That is they can act sing and dance. Well, that is a nice thought but most cant sing, there is little acting and they are basically dancers. This is a way to save money and it shows. Plus the show times have been cut to 35mins. I think carnival figures with its younger demographic people dont need fancy production shows. Also get there early if you want a seat. The comedians were good and the Hasbro Game show was fun. Nightly Comedy shows in the Limelight lounge were always packed and there were both family and adult shows. We went to one show and it was okay.
Cruise Director and Staff: Butch and Brittany were excellent!
Photo Gallery: People here were wonderful and helpful. They should have a photo package like on Celebrity. They did have a half off special on their albums and frames everyday so be sure to check daily. That was nice. Also the photographers were not as good as previous cruises.
Guest Services: There was one more incident with FTTF. They delivered the wrong debarkation tags. This is when I felt it was time to speak to a supervisor. I contacted the supervisor named Socor who passed me to his supervisor Connie. I explained the entire situation and she fixed it and gave me an onboard credit equal to what I paid for FTTF. In the end I was pleased with the resolution but would have preferred that FTTF worked the way it was supposed to. Also Maursia was very helpful.
Casino: Big and with lots of options. But smoke is an issue. Smoking sections are not really separate and you will smell smoke.
Drinks on Us Program: Once you reach 1500 tier points playing the slots all your drinks in the casino while you play are complementary. Note: you must be playing to get a drink----they will only bring you a second drink after 10mins. After your first 2 drinks service really slows down. The average drink is 8-9 dollars with 15% service charge. You can lose way more money than that waiting for a drink. Also when you get a comp drink if you dont tip at least a dollar every time they bring you a drink dont expect the waitress to rush back to you. If you are going to play anyway then that is fine go for the 1500 points. However if you think you are going to get free drinks by pursuing a 1500 point total be advised that each tier point is $5 in play and can easily cost you $1 to $2 even on a loose machine--------those are some pretty expensive free drinks. You would be better off buying a drink package at $50 a day rather than losing $500 plus in order to get free drinks.
Caveat Emptor: Always be careful when buying anywhere. Jewelry in particular! In Antigua I looked at a Tanzanite ring. I examined the ring with a loop (If you dont know how to use a loop then only buy jewelry from a local person you know) I found that the stone was chipped. I pointed it out to the sales associate and she told me it was like that. I asked her if she would say the same thing if I tried to sell her a car with three wheels and told her it was like that. She refused to discount the ring----probably because she will sell it to someone else. I told her I wasnt going to buy it even if she had discounted it a chipped girddle basically lowered the value of the stone considerably. It would have to be totally re-cut. Beware----know what you are buying or buy at home. Costco has great stuff.
St. Thomas Loved it! It always has the best shopping along with St. Maarten.
Antigua: Beautiful Island
Tortola BVI: Took a bus taxi tour right off of the dock for $20 a person-- forty dollars less than Carnival---saved $200 dollars.
Nassau: Expensive but beautiful. If you are going to Atlantis be prepared to pay for what was once free or cheaper.
Debarkation: Straight forward self assist or zone. Last call was at 10:00 a.m. very smooth. We took a cab back to the airport and took an afternoon flight back home.
Conclusion: The Breeze is a beautiful ship. I like many of the little changes that Carnival has made. We had a blast and would go back on in a heartbeat. We are looking forward to the Vista Class ships.